By Brian Yalung
The Philippine Skating Union (PHSU) is committed to boosting the sport of ice skating in the country, one of the main reasons why it held its first-ever short track training camp recently.
The official governing body for Figure Skating and Speed Skating in the Philippines recently hosted the 2018 PH Short Track Training Camp from September 24 to 26 and capped it off with the 2018 PH Open Short Track Championships to see the improvements of participating skaters aged 10 to 28.
Two renowned figures of the sport overlooked the activity to help boost the local skaters’ bid. Margaret Holland, head coach for one of Australia’s premier short track clubs, was brought over to guide local skaters on short track speed skating.
“This is the first and important step of the Filipino skaters. This camp is the way to go, basically going through the ropes. If we are to help them move up and join other skaters who are already at a higher level,” said Holland.
“You have two skaters who have already qualified. That is a first and big step for a small country with the rest in the middle level,” she added.
Holland has already seen some improvements but believes that more time to guide skaters can help improve the country’s chances in the international scene.
“After two days, from a coach’s point of view, we saw some marked improvement. Now, we cannot teach everything in a three-day camp. This camp is just part of the step towards the maiden competition and there are further steps needed to enhance a skater’s skills,” she said.
For Kevin Nicolle, a veteran international short track referee from New Zealand believes that further investment is needed, singling out officials who are familiar with the sport.
“It needs investment on officials. Without officials, you don’t know the sport. Southeast Asia is a developing region. Fifteen (15) years ago, there was no short track in Southeast Asia. The only short track was in Korea, China, and Hongkong… that was it,” Nicolle explained.
PSU Sports Director Christopher Martin remains confident that the Filipino skaters stand to benefit from the training camp. Aside from that, he reveals a busy schedule ahead for the young hopefuls.
“Even if we are just starting, I believe we are very capable. Some of the skaters will be competing in Australia this October, some in Indonesia this December and in Singapore in January. So with that, we are really exposing the Philippines to different competitions for exposure and to learn. With the support of SM and the PHSU along with the parents, we are hoping to have a good showing in the SEA Games,” he said.
Among the key skaters to watch for the Philippines are Julian Macaraeg, Marc Gonzales, Kevin Villanueva, Anna Cruz, Molly Martinez and Kayla Gonzales.